An Atlanta Falcon Progress Report: Dominique Franks

ATLANTA - AUGUST 19: Punt returner Dominique Franks #24 of the Atlanta Falcons is tackled by cornerback Terrence Wheatley #22 of the New England Patriots during the preseason game at the Georgia Dome on August 19 2010 in Atlanta Georgia. The Patriots beat the Falcons 28-10. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

It's been a long time since we took a hard look at Spencer Adkins and his career arc thus far, but I figured it was time to dive back in. With the lockout making the NFL's current climate more desolate by the day, it's a good time to dive into the Falcons roster and focus on cheerier things.

So now we look at another one of Thomas Dimitroff's famous projects, a guy whose potential may dwarf that of Adkins, Vance Walker and Lawrence Sidbury, the last three guys we covered in this series. That would be cornerback Dominique Franks, who seems likely to enter his second season with the Falcons as the fourth guy on the depth chart.

What makes Franks stand out? After the jump, we'll explore that very question.

One of the things you'll notice with this series is that I'm not picking guys who have established themselves. Hell, Sidbury did jack in 2010, but his potential makes him a worthy project.

Franks played extremely sparingly last season, seeing action in only weeks two and three against the Arizona Cardinals and New Orleans Saints. It was the game against the hapless Cardinals that Franks really got some run and delivered on his promise, picking a pass that he returned 40 yards, deflecting another pass and picking up a talent. He failed to record any stats against the Saints.

What can you infer from those  two games? Not a hell of a lot, obviously. Yet there is a lot to like with Franks, a fifth round draft choice of the Falcons in 2010 who represented an absolutely ridiculous steal, considering that on talent alone he could have gone two rounds higher.

Just 23, Franks has decent size at 5'11" and all the physical tools necessary to become a starting corner in the NFL. He's fast, has reasonably soft hands and changes direction well, and every report I've seen indicates that he tackles well for a corner. The biggest knock on him coming out of Oklahoma was that he was raw, but if there's one thing the Falcons do well as a team, it's molding raw talent into something workable.

Considering his upside, Franks should start seeing the field more often in 2011. If he develops at a reasonable rate, he could be the starter once Dunta Robinson hits the dreaded cornerback age wall at 45 miles per hour, which could be as soon as 2012 or 2013. In the meantime, he'll push Chris Owens for snaps and contribute on special teams.

Mark my words: Franks will be a valuable contributor for years to come. Don't be surprised if that ends up being an understatement of his value, either.

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